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GVL / Michelle Bouwkamp, PIC winner 1st place

GVL / Michelle Bouwkamp, PIC winner 1st place

Ben Glick

Earlier this month, the Grand Valley State University Padnos International Center held a ballot for photos students have taken while abroad in the 2013-2014 school year. The ballot closed Friday, Sept. 12 with three winners chosen and 18 honorable mentions. Since the contest, office has seen increased interest in students wanting to study abroad.

The first-place winner was Michelle Bouwkamp for her celebration, tradition and ritual category photo in China. Second place was Megan Prangley for her Lakers abroad category photo in Ireland, and Kaila Kaltrider took third with her photo in Spain in the people category.

The prizes were an iPad Mini for first place, an Under Armour GVSU jacket for second place and a GVSU sweatshirt for third place. With over 1,000 photo entries, 40 countries represented and 1,253 votes casted by the GVSU community, the PIC has received more attention from students.

“It’s been busier than last year,” said Alyse Griffis, a student advisor for the PIC.

The increase in activity for the PIC, which already has more than 800 students studying abroad, can be attributed to the participation in the photo contest that has just concluded, Griffis said.

“I think people got exposure to new ideas and locations,” said Megan Lendman, a student peer advisor. “Regardless, I think the biggest thing is just exposure to those visions and ideas, realizing that it’s possible for them.”

Lendman said that turn out for the contest generated a lot of activity for the PIC, and not just from students.

“Throughout the week, people have been coming in just asking for the ballots,” she said. “Right away there were a lot and there wasn’t just students. There was a few faculty as well to talk about it. I don’t know how many people came, but they did, especially alumni who were really excited to see their work on the wall.”

The contest also attracted the attention of international students who were happy to see some of their countries portrayed in the pictures.

“Right away, the international students voted because they had their orientation before anyone else, so it was fun they were all excited to see their home countries and such,” Lendman said.

Lendman added that students may have voted for a particular photo because that is exactly where they want to visit.

“I think the categories we just felt were really just kind of different aspects of study abroad that definitely stand out on a general basis,” she said. “It’s really crazy some people are out in a giant rainforest or on top of the Himalayas –that’s your classroom. We put that one because it seems so benign but it completely changes as you go abroad.”

Alyse Griffis said that the contest has inspired her again to travel abroad and hopes other students will feel the same way.

“People don’t know when people submit pictures, these are student photos that people have taken abroad and then brought back,” Griffis said. “If anything it inspires students to go abroad and that’s why we have an influx of people come in interested to talk to us.”

With the apparent success of this year’s contest, the advisors hope to be able to organize another event in the future.

“It was definitely a lot of work,” Lendman said. “But we think this was a major success.”

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